Bankruptcy Timeline | The Process of filing
The initial consultation
- The process of filing bankruptcy in Cape Coral begins with a free initial consultation to determine if you are an ideal bankruptcy candidate. At the first meeting, we evaluate your assets and debts to determine whether bankruptcy is suitable for you or whether you should consider other options.
- At the first meeting with our office, we recommend that your bring your proof of income for the last six months. If you are employed and earn the same amount of money every pay period, you can bring a couple of pay stubs. If you are self-employed, we recommend that you bring profit and loss statements for the last 6 to 12 months.
- At the initial consultation, we will fill out a questionnaire with you. Based on your answers to the questionnaire and the documentation you provide, we will recommend whether to file bankruptcy. We will tell you how long the process will take and how much bankruptcy will cost.
- If you decide you want to file, you will need to provide us a list of documents that the trustees in Fort Myers require. If you are filing chapter 13, the trustee will require your last two tax returns and your last 6 months pay stubs. If you are filing chapter 7, click this link to view the documents and information needed for filing chapter 7. Regardless of which chapter you file, you will need to complete credit counseling. This requirement can be completed online and costs approximately $14.95 per class. You will have to complete one class before you file and one class after you file.
0 to 45 days: Filing the case and attending the creditors’ meeting
- Once we receive your documents and payment, we usually have your papers ready for filing within 7 days. You will then review the paper work with us and sign it. We usually file the paperwork within 1 to 2 days after you sign.
- Once filed, your bankruptcy estate is created. Do not transfer, sell, destroy, or move property after you file bankruptcy without consulting with your attorney first.
- If you are filing chapter 13, you will need to make your first plan payment within 30 days of filing your case.
- Approximately 40 days after you file, you will attend a meeting of creditors. This meeting lasts approximately 5 minutes. You are required to attend this meeting and must bring your driver’s license and social security card. The bankruptcy court in Fort Myers does not permit you to bring a cell phone in the building. Your attorney will also attend this meeting. Usually, your creditors do not attend this meeting. Click this link to see a list of creditor meeting questions typically asked at the 341 meeting of creditors. I recommend arriving 15 to 30 minutes early so that you can watch a couple of meetings.
90 days: Chapter 7 cases
- Approximately 90 days after you file your chapter 7 case, you will receive your discharge of debts provided no creditors or trustee objects to your case. If you are required to pay the trustee any money, you can make the payments over a period of 12 months. Even if you take 12 months to make your payments, you can still get the discharge in 90 days. If you stop making your payments, the trustee can file a motion to revoke your discharge. Once you get your discharge, your case is over. Creditors can no longer legally collect debts that were discharged in the bankruptcy. You are now free to start rebuilding your credit.
90 days: Chapter 13 cases
- If you file chapter 13 bankruptcy, the Court will conduct a hearing called a confirmation hearing to approve your chapter 13 plan. This court hears this matter approximately 90 days after you file your case. Usually, you do not need to attend this hearing. Your attorney will attend the hearing. The first confirmation is almost always continued for six months because the creditors’ deadlines have not yet expired to file claims. If the court denies your plan at the second confirmation hearing, you will need to file an amended plan to cure the objection. Usually, your attorney will be able to resolve any objections with the trustee and creditors. If your case is filed in the Ft. Myers division, the chapter 13 trustee’s office is very strict in enforcing deadlines. They will allow you to continue your confirmation hearing only once before filing a motion to dismiss your case.
Chapter 13: Post Confirmation
- Once the judge confirms your chapter 13 plan, you continue to make your payments to the trustee until your plan payments end (usually 3 to 5 years from the date of filing your bankruptcy). During this time, you are required to submit copies of your tax returns to the trustee’s office, and you must file an amended budget if your income increases or decreases. Depending on the terms of the plan, the trustee’s office can take your tax refund or require you to pay more or less money depending on your income. If your income changes, please call our office before contact the trustee so that we can discuss your options with you.